Indo-Russia Weapons Deal: India to receive first batch of AK-203 Kalashnikov rifles in October
The Indian Army is expected to receive the first batch of the Indo-Russia AK-203 rifles from Russian sources in October, later this year. The AK-203 is a modernized 200 series AK-103 variant of the Kalashnikov family of rifles and one of the modern derivatives of the Russian AK-Pattern series of assault rifles.
According to sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Putin are supposed to jointly inaugurate the rifles that were manufactured via cooperation between the two countries. The initial 20 thousand rifles will come from Russia and the rest would be built at the Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL), a rifle-manufacturing facility at Korwa in Amethi district of Uttar Pradesh.
The factory is a joint-venture of the Ordnance Factory Board of India and Kalashnikov Concern of Russia, with Rosoboronexport holding a minority stake and will produce 7.5 lakh AK-203s, a 7.62×39mm variant from the AK-100 family.
India had signed the contract for the deal during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit on October 5, 2018.
The Indian Army was looking for a better assault rifle than that of the last decade. The AK-103 rifles deal with Russia had been under discussion for the last decade but the decision had pending for a long while. In 2018, the Government of India approved a more modern AK-203 rifle deal which is said to be constructed under licence.
Out of the rifles formed in India, the army needs 6,70,000 rifles, the rest of the rifles will be manufactured for other security forces. On 11th August, the Defence Ministry had instructed the expedition of the project.
The possibility of selling AK-203 rifles to other countries is also being considered.
The common project has 50.5% of the Indian government’s Ordnance Factory Board shares, Russian company Kalashnikov has 42% shares and Rosoboronexport holds 7.5% shares.